Youth Mental Health Day 2020: Music and Wellbeing
by Lucy Lorimer, Comms and Marketing Officer at Music Mark
In recognition of Youth Mental Health Day 2020 (YMHD) on September 7th, we are exploring how music can nurture wellbeing by helping children and young people to ‘Bounce not Break’. Stem4, the charity and founder of YMHD, have chosen this year’s theme to focus on building resilience, as this “gives us the ability to identify when we are feeling anxious, upset or sad and helps us understand how to express and manage these emotions.”
During lockdown, as well as adults, children and young people have certainly had to build their emotional resilience. Without routine, regular access to friends, and growing uncertainty about the future, the mental health of young people has been challenged this year. Now with most pupils back to school for the start of a new academic year after months of social distancing, the mental state of many children and young people could be volatile. Indeed, recent research led by the University of Bristol found that many young people felt even more anxious in school than they have felt during the pandemic. In light of these findings, plus the added pressures of ‘Covid-secure’ safety measures and catch-up curriculums, ensuring the wellbeing of young people will be a key consideration upon the reopening of schools.
It has long been recognised that music can be an effective tool for alleviating these everyday stresses as well as more complex psychological, social and emotional issues in both adults and children. Reporting on the Out of the Ark Music Singing School Project – a project which measured the effects of integrating singing into the curriculum - Susan Hallam MBE found that over the course of just one term, ‘there was a 10% increase in confidence, self-esteem, and getting on with others.’
Considering then the potentially stressful return to school, music poses a practical way to ease the transition from lockdown back into full-time education. Music Mark’s guidance for safely resuming musical learning in schools, ‘Music Unlocked’, suggests exactly this: “Music has for many children and young people been an outlet for expressing and working through the emotional impact of lockdown, and the subject has significant potential to support pupils as they return to school.”
So, with this in mind for Youth Mental Health Day 2020, we have collected some great resources, sites, and positive stories about how music can foster a positive outlook and wellbeing for children and young people. Here are some of our favourites:
- BBC’s Bring the Noise for Children’s Mental Health Week
For Children’s Mental Health Week in February, BBC’s ‘Bring the Noise’ share tips and techniques for incorporating music into the classroom for combatting loneliness, stress, and social skills in four to seven-year olds. To read advice from experts such as Gareth Malone and music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins, visit the page
- ‘Drillosophy’ video series by music education organisation RoadWorks
In response to lockdown, RoadWorks created ‘Drillosophy’; an educational video series exploring contemporary music culture, urban sociology and philosophy. Episode 2, ‘Therapy in the Trap’, is all about Aristotle’s concept of catharsis to frame storytelling in UK rap and drill music as a form of therapy. They show how ‘lyrics can be a great way of dealing with our feelings and emotions’.
- The Music Works Music Minds programme
Music Minds is a 10-week programme by the Gloucestershire-based music specialists The Music Works. The programme is designed to enable and empower teenagers to improve their mental health through music. Brilliant young musicians BETH and EMZI share their experience of mental health problems and how music helps them in two short videos – watch them here.
- Youth Music’s ‘Music Making and Mental Health’
A fantastic page of projects supported by Youth Music designed to work with young people who are experiencing mental ill health. Have a listen to some of the music created through projects such as Arts for Health NHS and the Rhythmix Wellbeing programme.
- Blogs devoted to music and wellbeing by mental health charity Mind
Many of the article contributors have struggled with issues such as anxiety, OCD, depression, and found a solace in music. After experiencing trauma and abuse, Laura writes “playing music is my therapy, it is fun, and is something that I highly recommend trying. Music made me stronger and more confident." Read blogs from Laura, Taryn, and Jamie about how music helped them.
If you or anyone you know is struggling, the organisation YoungMinds has a section of resources and advice for young people and parents, as well as a Crisis Messenger for free 24/7 support if you are a young person experiencing a mental health crisis.